Sunday, July 29, 2012

LWH – Week 3 : Ambong – Kudat

Saturday 21 July – Ambong – Kudat
06⁰56.455N / 116⁰50.608E
Just after we sent the blog last week, we were sitting on the deck watching the soccer game which happens on the beach every afternoon after the tide goes out when five young men (ages 12 – 22) came out in their boat and asked if they could come aboard. Two of them did and we sat and chatted as best we could with their limited English and our limited bahasa – though the skipper is getting better with the language. The other three mucked around and had a swim and sat on the transom, then sat in their boat beside ours. The boys explained that this village is called Bura Bura (or something like that!) and it is an entirely Filippino muslim community and they are all fishermen. We found it surprising that they are all Filippino. He said they go back to the Philippines every five years but they can’t get passports. They were really interested in a passport to go to England. We don’t think they actually realised what a passport was. Sad really. After a while we told them we were getting dinner so they politely shook our hands and left. We were sorry we hadn’t met them on our first visit here instead of our last.
We got up in the dark trying to get the internet to work to get an updated weather report. Took ages but we got away around 6.20 just after Suspense. It wasn’t the best day but we’ve had worse. We ran the motor at 2100 and put the headsail out to try to get round the Tip of Borneo before the 20 knot winds came in. It was very swelly and not terribly pleasant but we rounded the Tip at 3pm and came into calm water. We then had a lovely sail down to a bay before the town of Kudat and anchored at 5pm. We are so pleased to have that leg out of the way. It was very blowy but a calm night.
Miles: 64 TTT: 282

Sunday 22 July – Kudat
06⁰53.412N / 116⁰51.598E
We had an easy start to the morning then upanchored around 8.45 and motored to the duckpond and haulout facility. We were a little dismayed to see three yachts anchored there so we anchored too and the skipper took Bob to do a reccy. It is very sheltered from the wind here but we are in the channel to the haulout facility. Haulout set for 7.30 tomorrow. The other boats are not waiting for haulout yet. The fishing boats coming in and out managed to go around us all and we had a good night.

Monday 23 July – Kudat Haulout
We were up early and could see the travel lift wasn’t in place so called them up and they said they were ready so in we went and the crew threw the lines to waiting hands and they soon had hold of us. Then the travel lift came down - there was no opportunity to get off the boat so the crew stayed below until we were chocked up on the hard outside the office held up by eight large concrete blocks. There is a breakwater around the facility which might just be short of a few blocks!! It looks a bit iffy but it seems to work. We had to ask a couple of blokes for a ladder as we were stuck up the top of the boat. This is a ship building yard for the fishing fleet though there are quite a few yachts and cats scattered around the place. There is a resort at the top of the duck pond so it is quite a pretty outlook but we have decided to stay on the boat. We have a key to our own shower (a dribble) and toilet so that is ok. The day was spent cleaning and sanding the bottom of the boat which actually wasn’t too bad – a few barnacles though the prop was pretty fouled. There is a very slight movement in the prop shaft but the skipper is confident it will get us home. The skipper managed to get the first coat of antifoul on and has cleaned the prop beautifully. We then went to the golf club just down the road for dinner.

Tuesday 24 July – Kudat haulout
The skipper put another coat of antifoul on and some more on the prop and we took the short walk to town to check in. We found Immigration and Customs but the Harbour Master was more problematic - was located up some grotty stairs on an indescript street. I noticed that most of the names of the people working there had the word ‘bin’ in it so asked about it. The name before the ‘bin’ is their first name and the name after the ‘bin’ is their father’s name. We walked through the market and the shops and the people were very friendly and welcoming (this is the place where we were robbed – I keep looking for my prescription sunglasses!). We had lunch – I asked for spicy and it was! We checked out the marina across the other side of the duck pond but t it appears to be owned by an unknown Chinese man who doesn’t want yachts there and is planning on bringing in a barge to dredge there – it doesn’t actually look very sturdy. The skipper did more work on the boat while the crew took the sheets and towels to the laundry – time for a good wash! The Tuesday market was set up by this stage so I spent an hour or so wandering through looking at all the interesting food they were cooking up and all the different species of fish they were selling. We went to the Golf Club for an indescript meal.

Wednesday 25 July – Kudat Haulout
We could have gone back into the water today but decided to wait till tomorrow. The skipper put fuel in the tank then we went to the market and bought fruit and veges and then had lunch. I collected the laundry – couldn’t believe how clean and soft it all was – comes up so much better than handwashing! We asked the waitress where we could get a taxi and she just waved down a bloke in a car who took us to the boat then took the jerries to the petrol stations – you can only fill two jerries at a time. We then went to town and bought some takeway – it is Ramadan so they have heaps of food stalls in the evening.

Thursday 26 July – Kudat
They lifted us up at 1130 so the skipper could antifoul the bits we couldn’t get at then at 1.30 we hopped aboard and travelled in the yacht by land and were placed very gently back in the water – no trouble at all. In fact it was one of the best haulouts we have had! We anchored back where we had been and cleaned the decks . We really enjoyed being in the yard watching all the fishing boats being hauled out and worked on. We even saw one of the very long skinny fast ferries lifted out – so interesting. And everyone very very friendly.

Friday 27 July – Kudat
Rubicon star came in so we had morning tea with them. Then we went to town for lunch and the skipper had a haircut. We went with Rubi to the Golf Club for dinner

As I am typing this, we are pinned down here with some bad weather which looks as though it may go on for some days – more on that next week. We also had an email from Suspense who went into Sandakan that they had had their outboard stolen even though it was locked on to the dinghy which was in the davits very high up and they had alarms in their cockpit – they still cant figure out how they got it. We may just give Sandakan a miss and not even bother going in there.

Anyway love to you all.
May the winds soon calm down
Dell and Peter

Friday, July 20, 2012

LWH - Week 2 : Labuan - Ambong

Saturday 14 July - Labuan - Snake Island, Tiga
05?40.107N / 115?35.402E
Left just after 7am and it looked like being a long boring motoring day but there was a storm brewing off our port side which brought us some wind so were motor sailing beautifully then had to reef the headsail as it got a bit strong. At one stage the rain just arced around us with us in the middle with no rain - it was the strangest thing. The rain continued and blanketed Labuan. We arrived at the sandspit behind Tiga (Survivor) Island at 3.20pm just as it started to rain. It was a soaking rain, no storm so very pleasant. We could see Suspense anchored behind Tiga Island
Miles: 43 TTT: 159

Sunday 15 July - Snake Island - Kota Kinabulu
05?58.053N / 116?03.281E
This has to be one of the loveliest anchorages around - so pretty. We left at 7.10am. It was a beautiful sunny day and we motor sailed in very calm conditions. We passed a lot of rubbish in the water and the crew had to go forward a couple of times to navigate through many large logs, trees and bits of wood. We anchored off Kota Kinabulu marina at 12.50 in 13m. A chap came out and told us that the marina was now charging 30rm ($10) just to tie the dinghy up - maybe we will find out tomorrow when we try to get in.
Miles: 26 TTT: 185

Monday 16 July - Kota Kinabulu Marina
A huge thank you to Amy and Ruth for all their help in overseeing the removal of our furniture.
We just had the worst night we have had in a very long time with a side to side roll all night - no sleep!!! Tried calling the marina but too early so put Bob in and went into the marina and were met by a woman saying we would have to pay our 30RM to leave our dinghy there and thanked us for checking in - most don't - and at $10 a day we can see why people wouldn't announce themselves!! We met the new boss of the marina who said we could come in but he had to go to a meeting with his boss and the girls would sort us out. The boys in the office (which opens at 9) finally turned up around 9.10 (no key) and 9.15. He wasn't so sure he could let us in but we told him his boss said it was ok and then he wanted to put us on the outside dock and we said we wanted to go beside Deja Vu and because we told him his boss was ok with that, thats where we got. We went out and put Bob aboard and headed in. Jeremy off Suspense helped with our lines and there we were - finally on the fourth try in Sutera Harbour marina!! Obviously the 'dont let them in' sign had been erased from our foreheads! We headed to the Indonesian Consulate and there were so many people there all with numbers. We went back out to the security man and he told us we didn't need a number but to go to counter No. 4 which was a door. We stuck our heads through and were told counter No. 3. There were the visa application forms so we filled out two each and put them in with copies of our other paperwork, then to the Maybank around the corner to pay the fee and back again so it was all lodged by 11.30am. We were told to come back at 4. We walked to town, had lunch and did some shopping and went back to the Consulate at 3.30 and there were our passports waiting with our Indonesian visas in them!! So we are ready to go!! The Indonesians there were very friendly and we are looking forward to sailing through their country again. We caught the resort bus back, had a lovely hot shower - towel supplied - and had a lovely meal at the resort. Its around $25 per night for the marina and dinner for two around $30 - $40. So pleased to be in here.

Tuesday 17 July - Kota Kinabulu marina
Happy Birthday Stuart
Went to town on the resort bus and did some shopping though the skipper was a very reluctant shopper! Guess shoes and shirts don't turn him on Bought some fruit and went back on the resort bus. Had a hot shower - towel supplied! - and dinner at the resort.

Wednesday 18 July - Kota Kinabulu Marina
We should have left today but didn't. We walked all round the resorts for a look. There are two resorts with the marina and country club in the middle. We are allowed to use the Country Club pool (we didn't) which is lovely, the bowling alley which the crew really wanted to but didn't quite make it (about $7 per game plus shoe hire), billiard room and movie room. The crew went to town shopping while the skipper stayed on board and also checked us out to leave tomorrow We almost went to town for a cheap meal but ended up at the resort for dinner after - did I mention a lovely hot shower - towel supplied!

Thursday 19 July - Kota Kinabulu Marina
It rained steadily all night, the wind came up and it was blowing a gale gusting 35 knots so no way could we leave. We emptied our water tank from Miri and put in the cleaner water from KK. At 11am the wind had dropped off and we thought maybe we should go but there was that little niggle of doubt so we used the 'if in doubt' rule and stayed. Then the sky blackened, the rain started then the wind came and it blew a gale gusting around 40 knots we reckon. The skipper put extra lines on. The old sailors used to say if the wind precedes the rain its not too bad but if the rain precedes the wind you are in for a blow. And did it blow - we were so happy to be in the marina and so happy we didn't leave. It blew a gale and rained all day. We just played computer games and had a lovely day. We had intended to catch the 5pm bus to town but got talking to Jeremy and Natalie off Suspense then two of the lads off one of the super yachts came over to invite us to a barbeque tomorrow night and we chatted some more. It was a bit late by then so we had a hot shower - towel supplied! - and dinner at the resort. They have three blokes singing each night and they come to your table to serenade you - embarrassing but they played us 'leaving on a jet plane'. Another lovely day. A Danish boat with about ten young people came in late in the afternoon rocking and rolling till they got into the marina. There didn't appear to be any shelter on the boat at all, from the wind or the rain. One of the girls later told me that they had been eight days coming down from Thailand - they would have had a shocking scary day.

Friday 20 July - Kota Kinabulu Marina - Ambong
06?19.231N / 116?15.441E
We got up early and consulted three weather sites on the internet and the grib files and at 7am decided to go (besides which it was getting expensive!). It was a bit swelly but not too bad. Had quite a good run with just the headsail out and seas from astern. The wind started picking up as we got closer and we surfed in and were quite pleased to be here. A quick run getting in at 12.45. We are tucked in out of the swell. It is still pretty windy but the sun is shining. Suspense came in around 2pm but couldnt furl their headsail so had to go up the mast a few times (it is a very big mast) and they worked on it for quite some time and ended up dropping it. It looks as though it will be pretty windy around the tip (of Borneo) tomorrow and it is a long run so we will consult the weather again in the morning to see if we go or not.
Miles: 33 TTT: 218

Love to all. Best wishes to Maureen and Winston. Missing little Rosie. If you or yours are in Brisbane on the 28th July get down to the Tivoli for a great night - its for a very good cause (Cancer research).

May all your storms be small ones
Dell and Peter

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Long Way Home – the journey begins

First of all Happy Birthday to Carol for the 9th
Tuesday 10 July – Miri – Kuala Belait Brunei
04⁰34.822N / 114⁰11.362E
We woke early and wondered if we should go as it seemed very windy. We checked the weather on the internet and when we realised the 23 on the weather map was the temperature and not the wind strength we decided to go. We stowed everything, disconnected the power and Cilantro came to help us with our lines. And off we went finally heading home. The wind soon died out and we motored. A little swallow rested a while with us – not at all afraid. We could see a huge weather front on our port side as we turned the point. It got very windy coming from behind which built up quite a chop and it started to rain as we approached the river at Kuala Belait. We dropped the anchor in 2.8m beside the mangroves across from the town at 2.45pm. A humungus barge came down river towed by a tug – went quite close to us. A rope was attached to each side of the barge and the tug controlled it by releasing one rope and tightening the other so he could steer it – ingenious! The sailing yacht Kind of Blue came in and anchored further up river.
Miles: 35 Total This Trip: 35

Wednesday 11 July – Kuala Belait – Jefri’s Wall
04⁰56.972N / 114⁰48.761E
Once again we watched all the big boats go out – first one we saw was at 5.15am in the dark. Kuala Belait is a port town which services the Brunei oil rigs and has a lot of large boats – kind of like over sized tugs. There are heaps of oil/gas rigs off the coast. We left at 6.20am after all the big boats. It doesn’t feel a lot like we are on our way home yet but every mile we do now is a mile closer to home. A long hot day of motor sailing with slight swell. Interspersed the boredom taking turns playing a computer game! Hooked a fish but the crew was too slow at hauling it in and it got off. The second fish the skipper was hauling in quite a big one when snap – all he had left was the head! There was something big out there! Came inside Jefri’s wall around 3.15pm. The police boat was there again but they seem to tolerate us. Kind of Blue and Suspense came in. There was a big storm over the land but we had a lovely calm night – as always, courtesy of the Sultan’s brother, Jefri.
Miles: 46 TTT: 81

Thursday 12 July – Jefri’s Wall – Labuan
05⁰16.462N / 115⁰14.313E
Upanchored at 7am – heaps of mud on the anchor and chain. It is actually quite cool. The skipper has had a shirt on for the last two days! Can see two flames out on the horizon – presume it is gas burning. A lovely sight with a dark weather front behind it. It always amazes us how long it takes for a big boat’s wake to hit us. A boat passed us and was a mile away before his wake hit us – big wake too! Suspense left at 8 and passed us by 10 – he is a bit bigger than us! As we were leaving Brunei waters we saw a big plane flanked by two fighters and 9 helicopters – we presume the Sultan must have been going somewhere!! We anchored in our usual spot off the town of Labuan at 2pm. We called Jai to pick us up in his water taxi and take us ashore. His driving skills seemed to have deteriorated since we were last here but he was happy to see us. We did a reccy and bought some wine – there’s still not a lot around. We got our Indian takeaway – not up to its usual standard! Jai took us back – gave the boat a nudge but no harm done. Dinner on the deck watching the harbour and city at work – wonderful to watch the world go by. Then it started to rain.
Miles: 35 TTT: 116

Friday 13 July – Labuan
Its another Black Friday birthday for our little Jessie’s 5th birthday – Happy Birthday Jessie
We put Bob in and headed to a little beach Judy had told us about. Its on our side of the river so very convenient. A man was cleaning up the leaves and he had his three small sons with him. The boys ‘helped’ us pull Bob ashore. We went to the supermarket and bought them out of beer. The boys helped stow it into Bob then after asking permission of the boy’s father the skipper took the oldest boy out to help unload. The boys helped stow the rest of the beer. The smallest boy went head over turkey in the sand. Very funny. The two little ones had been up in the big garbage skips and came out with about eight empty spray paint cans which they proceeded to hit with stones to open them. They said they were trying to get the bullets out without much success thankfully. While the crew was waiting for the skipper she walked back to the supermarket except this time the warehouse on the right was open and it was filled with beer – the mother lode!!! And it was cheaper – could have saved $10 if we had found it first (another carton of beer!) Anyway we took a few off his hands and found some white wine in the supermarket. How much easier it was to just be able to load the dinghy up instead of using the water taxi. And for those who wonder at all the supplies we put on board – we cant just run down to the corner store every time we want something – we have to be pretty self sufficient for the next four months. Except for the fresh stuff we have to have everything on board though of course all the bigger towns we visit have some kind of supermarket. We paid the two little boys 1RM each and the older boy 2RM and gave their Dad a packet of chippy things and dried mangos. The two little ones had disappeared – guessed they had gone to spend their money! We then took Bob across the other side of the river to the town – there wasn’t a lot of boat traffic today and the crew waited under the water taxi jetty while the skipper grabbed a few more things – so much easier. We got back on board and as it was Jai’s day off we called Jo Bro and he came to collect us – he is a good driver. We had lunch and went to check in/ check out with Immigration, harbour master and customs then back to the boat with Jo Bro to stow everything away which took the rest of the afternoon. We sat on the deck watching the world go by again. It is such an interesting harbour.

Well that’s week one of our journey home. It feels good to be out on the water and good to have a purpose again though we wont really feel that till we have done our haulout and head into unknown waters. If you wish to know where we are, we will endeavour to update our Yotreps link every evening.

Love to you all. Special love to Maureen and Winston.

Fair Winds and Calm Seas
Dell and Peter

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Well the time has flown by. The cushions came back and luckily they look a million dollars – we are very happy with them. And the life raft is back where it belongs. We have two schools of fish under our boat – Archer fish and Happy Moments (apparently they sting if you touch them). The archer fish can spit very accurately and if the skipper hasn’t fed them in the morning they will spit and hit him in the head till he feeds them!!

We finally hired a car and went to the Niah Caves but unfortunately we took a wrong turn and only saw the great cave and missed the best of it but the less said about that the better!! But what we saw was fantastic and it was fun to follow the walkways up and down in the dark with our own torches. And we actually saw someone collecting the swiftlets' birdsnests. We stayed the night in the national park which was really lovely and were able to drive to town for dinner. We returned to Miri and finally also went up to see the museum of the history of oil here in Miri but it is closed for refurbishment. We did see a bit of Miri and it really is a lovely place.

We actually ran out of water on the boat. It has been so lovely to be able to use water as we like that we ran the tank dry – that’s the first time we have ever done that!! Oh well it will be back to austerity next week! Wednesday night found a heap of us in the Ming Cafe for dinner to watch the state of origin – great result! And a really good night.

We are fuelled up, gassed up watered up and doing some last minute shopping (and getting the spokes on the skipper’s bike fixed – again!) and get some Indonesian rupiah and we are off. Leaving here (weather permitting) on Tuesday 11th to sail leisurely north to haul out on the 25th. Its lovely here and we have enjoyed Miri very much but we don’t want to live here so it is time to go. So many people seem to arrive here and never leave!! We are really looking forward to being back out on the water.

Hope you are all well. For those of you in Brisbane, our son in law Pete is the supporting act on the 28th July at the Queen concert at the Tivoli so get along and give your support to the cancer fund.
Dell and Peter